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The Right Mix

Lora Hex smiled. After six long years, the seeds of her revenge were ready to be planted.

It had taken six long years to turn abstract idea into actionable reality, an idea that began its first stirrings as soon as she was taken from the New Republic world of Poctoris.

It had taken half that long for the First Order to trust her with a task other than mere theory building and paperplast shuffling. On the third year of her forced servitude, the former Sr. Researcher of Profile Training and Psychoanalysis was finally promoted. From mere lab hand, Lora slowly climbed the ladder back to junior analyst in her new home, the Star Destroyer Ravager.

It helped that half of the FO scientists were moronic yes-men who wouldn’t have passed the first year admission exams in a Republic institution, much less wear a lab coat. It also helped that she began sleeping with the vessel’s Director of Science, a morbidly obese man whose academic credentials consisted of being related to the sector Moff.

On the fourth year, she gained clearance to the tightly guarded Recruit Training Program, the First Order’s conditioning process for the conscripted soldiers that formed its military backbone. Lora felt a special kinship with these recruits — like her, they were forcibly taken from their homeworlds, never to see their families again. Unlike her, the “blaster fodders” were taken at a very young age, the better to mold them for a lifetime of unquestioning service to the Order.

At first limited to observer status, within six months Lora became Program Assistant. Her meteoric rise came from improvements she made in the regimen’s Logical Reasoning, Cortex Development and Abstract Thinking classifications.

On the fifth year, the death of her elderly superior catapulted Lora into the position of Program Head, Level 1 Recruit Training and Conditioning. It was the break she was looking for.

She began with minuscule changes to the basic regimen. A slight tweak to the Creativity course here, a small dip in the Obedience programming there. All over her various postings, Lora sabotaged the conditioning process of FO foot soldiers more effectively than any Republic battle fleet or resistance spy. Approximately 120 new graduates of the FC batch on the fortress world of Thosis II received a boost in independent thinking. Onboard the Decimator, 70 recruits of the FL batch were given a sense of survival, while 30 new FN troopers destined for the Finalizer were given a moral conscience. The First Order wanted the perfect stormtrooper: smart, unquestioning, and uncaring. Lora was giving them the exact opposite.

Unfortunately, her sabotage was shortlived. After several incidents of insubordination among the FC batch, the entire wing was sent to a penal colony for reconditioning. Of the FL batch, an attempted mutiny by FL-1366 led to the summary execution of six squads and the whole legion’s quarantine. In her zeal to topple the enemy from within, Lora’s altered troopers stood out like flashing distress beacons and were ruthlessly suppressed.

But not anymore. On her sixth year, Lora Hex finally found the right mix for her revenge. The latest batch was independent enough to think without being hardheaded, creative enough to adapt while seeming obedient, and ethically aware without being obvious. Best of all, they were programmed with a delayed fuse. Instead of being fanatically opposed to tyranny like the first ones, the new ones will blend in and quietly disrupt the First Order from within.

The FU batch was her crowning gift to the powers that destroyed her life.

As Lora closed her datapad, the door to her cabin chimed, announcing the arrival of unexpected guests. On the monitor, two black-clad agents of the dreaded Internal Security Directorate stood waiting outside, alongside a handful of naval troops. After two years of causing havoc, the ISD had finally caught on to her.

Lora Hex looked out her window. She closed her eyes, imagining she could see the emerald seas of Poctoris one last time, rather than the featureless gray of a warship’s bulkhead. She reached for a button under the desk.

The soundless explosion briefly blossomed from the destroyer’s right flank, incinerating Lora, the two ISB agents, a whole detention squad, and all historical records of Recruit Training and Conditioning, Level 1.

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